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A Vision of Future Warfare


Peter A. Garretson

GHOST FLEET: A NOVEL OF THE NEXT WORLD WAR
By Peter Singer  and August Cole
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2015, pp. 416, $18.83

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 9 September 2015

Ghost Fleet is a must read for those interested in the future of conflict. Imaginative, thoughtful, the authors have drawn together a diverse set of evolving trends in modern warfare—from ‘hybrid war’ to cutting-edge technological developments in cyber, directed energy and unmanned systems—and woven them into a scenario of great power conflict in the near future where they all interact. This is the first time that the authors, both senior fellows at two of America’s top think tanks, have tried their hand at fiction, and it works. Peter Singer is a strategist for the New America Foundation and consultant to the US military intelligence community, FBI and Hollywood, and readers may be familiar with his nonfiction works, Wired for War, Corporate Warriors, Children at War, and Cybersecurity and Cyberwar from his time at Brookings. August Cole is an Atlantic Council nonresident fellow and former defense industry reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Extensively footnoted, the authors present a vision of future warfare in all modern domains: space, cyber, land, air and sea, and within a mostly-plausible geopolitical context. Not shy to attack any of the military services sacred cows, the author shows how today’s advantages—aircraft carriers, forward bases, the F-35—can all be eroded with asymmetric means. What is it like for America to lose its forward bases in Japan, its carriers, to lose Guam and Hawaii and lose confidence in the cyber security of its systems, and to lose air and space superiority in the first move? Singer and Cole present a vision that casts America as the insurgent fighting in the mandown position, and one specific vision of an Air Sea Battle. What is it like for the perceived weaker power to lose alliances and have to find new ones? Singer and Cole present a clever geo-strategic acumen that shows just how fast alliances and agreements can shift. The book presents a post-Communist Party China, where the Presidium, an alliance of military and business leaders rule China, and seek to extend their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into the Mariana trench near Guam where their deep sea exploration has discovered a vast oil deposit. Forming a temporary alliance with Russia, they seek a limited war to push the US far back in the Pacific and then negotiate to a new status quo where they will have gained the extended EEZ. The war begins in ...


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